Whether you’re looking to buy a house, sell or refinance, a home appraisal is likely going to be an important part of the process. After all, you have to know how much a house is worth before you can make any meaningful financial moves on it.
The appraisal process can be a nerve-wracking one, especially if you aren’t sure what all goes into it. Let’s take a look at what appraisals are, how they work and how much you can expect one to cost.
What Is A Home Appraisal?
A home appraisal is a process through which a real estate appraiser determines the fair market value of a home. It can assure you and your lender that the price you’ve agreed to pay for a home is fair. Appraisals are also often used to determine property taxes, which makes them a requirement in most counties.
If you need a mortgage to buy a home, your real estate agent will suggest that you include an appraisal contingency in the sales contract. The appraisal contingency lets you walk away from a home purchase if the appraisal comes in too low to justify the agreed-upon purchase price.
While necessary in most cases, they aren’t required. You may want to skip the contingency if you’re buying a home with cash or if you’re in a seller’s market. However, it makes a lot of sense if you’re buying your first home or if you’re on a tight budget.
Home Appraisal Vs. Home Inspection
An appraisal differs from a home inspection. A home inspection is a much more in-depth process. In a home inspection, an inspector specifically looks for problems in the home and determines whether certain areas need repairs. An inspector may test outlets, run the home’s furnace to see if it can hold a stable temperature and look at the roof to see if it’s been properly installed.
A home appraiser will take visible defects into account, such as a roof that’s caved in or the fact that the home doesn’t have a working plumbing system, but appraisers do not search for specific problems. Instead, the appraiser looks for an overall value to assign to the property.
What Do Home Appraisers Look For?
Appraisals are not performed by your mortgage company. Most state laws require that only an independent third party may perform a property appraisal, though your mortgage lender may help schedule or arrange the appraisal.
During the actual inspection, an appraiser looks at a number of factors in the home to determine its value. Some of the things that appraisers consider when they determine a home’s value include:
- The basic condition of the home: The appraiser won’t check to see if outlets are working or consider the paint color on the walls when they assign a value to the home, but they will assess the home’s basic condition. The appraiser counts the number of bedrooms and makes sure each one has a window and a closet. They also check for health and safety considerations, such as the presence of lead paint, and check to see if the HVAC system and cooling system are functional. They will also make sure that someone could reasonably live in the home. If they determine that someone cannot, expect the appraisal value to be significantly lower than surrounding homes that are in livable condition.
- Upgrades: Your appraiser will look at any upgrades or improvements you made to the property. The upgrade needs to be a permanent fixture of the home if you want it to increase the home’s If you can take it with you when you move, your appraiser probably won’t consider it an upgrade. The appraiser also considers upgrades outside of the home’s living space, including upgrades to the garage, pool or basement.
- Other homes in your area: Appraisers don’t just look at your property when they assign a value to your home. They also look at public records of other homes near yours. Because location is a major factor in determining the value of a property, appraisers will look at what similar homes have recently sold for, and how property values trend.
After the appraiser finishes their research, they make a final valuation of the property in a formal report. The appraiser then delivers the report to your mortgage lender.
An appraisal determines the fair market value for a home. A professional appraisal is done by a licensed third-party appraiser who assesses the interior and exterior of the property, researches similar homes in the area and gives a final report. Be sure to spruce up your home to make it look more appealing to an appraiser.
Before your mortgage lender gives you a loan, they look at the appraiser’s report to ensure that you aren’t paying more for the home than its current value. Most single-family home appraisals cost $300 – $400, while multifamily units typically cost up to $600, though it could be more costly if you live in a rural area or have large acreage.
If an appraisal comes in low, buyers and sellers both have options. A buyer can renegotiate the sales price, and a seller can lower the home price or request another appraisal. While a client or seller can request a new report, that does not mean that a new report will be ordered or issued upon that request.
Appraisals are beneficial for everyone involved in the home buying process: For buyers, a home appraisal ensures they are paying the current fair market value. For sellers, an appraisal helps them price their home competitively. For mortgage lenders, an appraisal provides proof that a home is valued at the proper level to approve a mortgage.
P: (652) 451-2273
P: (651) 398-3477